Let’s Dye Our Eyebrows!

You know what I love? A nicely filled-in look for my sparse ‘n’ scanty eyebrows. You know what I hate? Having to fill my damn eyebrows in all the time. Since I live in The Sticks (TM), a good microblading job is probably not easily accessible to me. WHAT’S A LAZY GIRL TO DO? Experiment with temporary tattoo inks, that’s what.

UH OH WHAT HAVE YOU DONE

Okay you know henna tattoos aka mehndi, right? A plant-derived dye that’s applied to the skin and the resulting stain lasts a week or two? There’s also a thing called Jagua, which is a blue-black shade (as opposed to henna’s well-known red-brown), and works much the same way. A while back — a long while back — I ordered a Jagua gel tattoo kit from HennaCity (currently $15.75/.5oz or $17.95/1oz). The kits come with some stencils for tattoos, and a nozzle and a selection of different-sized metal tips (much like an icing bag!) for doing various sized dots and lines. I tried it almost immediately, because their info says the product is best/most effective when very “fresh” and to store your unused gel in the refrigerator. Okay you guys this stuff has been in my fridge for like A YEAR, and I thought “oh what the hell, let’s see if it still works the same — or at all.”

WAIT WHAT IS “JAGUA” THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE A REAL THING

Jagua is another name for the genipa americana tree, or a reference to the body art created with an extract of the fruits of that tree, which look like this :

Image credit Alex Popovkin via CreativeCommons.

And here below is a sample look from HennaCity. Point of interest : many real tattoo parlors will give you a temporary version of your desired tattoo using jagua or henna, in case you’re unsure about the design / placement / etc. Useful!

WOW that’s quite black indeed. The gel itself is a sheerish black with a slight blue-green tint :

Okay so the first time I applied this stuff (when it was actually new and presumably fresh) I used a smallish liner brush and applied a fairly thin layer, because I did not want scary solid black Sharpie brows. This time, because my gel was kinda old and thus probably less potent — okay fine and also because I forgot about the whole “it can get REALLY BLACK” thing — I glopped it on as thickly as I could without risking it dripping down my face. LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

First, here’s what my eyebrow looks like in its normal state. It is a pretty pathetic eyebrow. I mean, the shape is okay, and I’m fortunate I guess in that I don’t require a lot of cleanup (just tweezers, no threading or waxing required), but I’m eternally envious of y’all who can just use those brush-in tinted brow gel things and be done with it. Sigh.

ANYWAY, so I blorped on some Jagua gel. I used the flat end of one of the rounded paddle-type toothpicks that was in my kit, and just scooped gel straight out of the bottle and worked it into my eyebrow. The texture is not sticky at all, but it’d be easier if it were — its “slip” can make it challenging to get it where you want it and in a consistent thickness. Also, evidently my head cold and general tiredness made it challenging to get an in-focus photo of this step, sorrryyyy.

When I normally fill my brows in (ColourPop’s potted brow fill stuff and a stiff angle brush), I go a teeny bit bigger than this — but I wasn’t sure how strongly it would stain and I knew I couldn’t really feather or soften the edges, so I basically “kept within the lines.” It dries in half an hour or less, but I kept it on for about four hours (they recommend at least three). Then you just wash it off, and …

… nothing! Actually you can see a faint greenish-yellowish tint there? This is normal. The color “develops” over the next day or two. So the following day, I had :

Now we’re getting somewhere! This is about 18 hours after application.

24 hours after application, taken in shadow (strong direct light washes out the contrast a lot, which, it also washes out my natural brow a lot, which is why I need brow fill in the first place). This is pretty much what it looks like in person, and it hasn’t really darkened further for me (it’s been about 40 hours since application now). This is also pretty much what the first application a long time ago looked like — when the gel was brand new and I applied it a little bit thinner.

PROS : The color didn’t bleed or feather outside where I directly applied it. It leaves a cool semi-sheer grey-black stain, which works great for me because I always use black brow fill, as I generally have black or cool-toned (blue, purple) hair. It should last a week or two and fade gradually; exfoliation can speed its demise, but moisturizing the skin with oils and such (hemp oil, woo) can help it last longer (just like with henna tattoos). Now my brows aren’t completely sad and near-invisible when unfilled! Yay!

CONS : The dye seems to gather a bit in pores / the base of hair follicles, which results in some tiny speckles? (You can most readily see this in the last brow pic above.) This is really only apparent at VERY close viewing distances, though. And I mean, if I’m going out, I’m going to be doing some additional fill on top of this anyway. The other con is that application can be a little tricky (might be much easier if you had a stencil to use), and if you like the look, you’ll have to redo it every week or two. Also, if you don’t like blue-black, you’re outta luck.

Well actually, there’re options — if you’re a redhead, you could try this with straight henna instead! And if you’ve got dark auburn or brown hair, henna and jagua can be MIXED to achieve various tones of purple and brownish shades. I would strongly suggest that if you choose to do this, you experiment on your leg or something to get the dye ratios and resulting color just right before putting it on your actual face. I might, at some point, get some henna to mix with this, just enough to neutralize the blue-green tinge.

IN CONCLUSION : Why has this stuff been sitting in my fridge, ignored, for so very long? I’m gonna do this on a regular basis. It is VERY nice to have a little bit of a “base” to work with, and to not look like a sad 90s-overplucking victim every time I catch a glimpse of my makeup-free reflection. The fill is a little speckly because of the gathering-in-follicles thing, but I ain’t even care. This is fun! It’s better than nothing! And now that I know that this stuff can be tossed in the fridge and still work AT LEAST A YEAR past its purchase date? That’s very reasonable indeed.

Ever done a henna or jagua tattoo? Are you mad enough to put this crap on your eyebrows like some kind of weirdo? Pls tell me I’m not alone.